Net Zero Water


By Melanie Stewart

If you’ve been watching the news, you’ve heard a lot about water.  It’s easy to forget how valuable water is to us, as we can turn on the faucet and get fresh, clean water whenever we want it.  If we were under drought restrictions, had contaminated water, or had to haul it from a nearby reservoir, our attitudes would quickly change.

UNMC/Nebraska Medicine recently announced their commitment to reduce water use to “Net Zero Water.”  This does not mean we won’t use any water.  We will still use water, we’ll still have green space, and we’ll always recommend washing hands!

The goal means that by 2030 we’ll only use as much water as falls on our property in an average year.  As of right now, that would mean we would use 104 million gallons of water per year. That’s a lot of water, enough to fill 160 Olympic swimming pools!  Still, it’s a 55% reduction from our 2010 baseline, and 33% reduction from where we are now, so we have some work to do.

Reductions at home are important too; did you know most of us use 20 gallons of water per shower?   Or that the EPA estimates Nebraska to be one of the top 7 states for water use per capita?

Here are some simple things you can do to have a sizable impact:

  • Turn faucets completely off–no dripping–especially in labs.
  • Report drippy faucets and leaks, inside or outside.
  • Scrape or wipe instead of rinsing recyclables; rinsing isn’t necessary.
  • Buy faucets and fixtures with the Water Sense
  • Take a five-minute shower. Need a fun timer? Check out the list below of five-minute-long songs you can listen to while you shower. (Don’t dance–you might slip!)
  • Turn the faucet on part way, only using the pressure you need. Turn it off when brushing teeth.
  • Don’t run your sprinkler system when it’s raining, make sure programs are correct and check sprinkler heads to make sure they are watering plants, not concrete.
  • Or, forgo the grass! Look into low-water-use plants and groundcover; consider xeriscaping.
  • Build a rain barrel. It’s easy, inexpensive, and provides free water for your garden or to wash your car.  Did you know that over 600 gallons of water will run off a 1,000 sq. ft. roof in a 1” rain?



Aerosmith-Sweet Emotion

The Beatles-While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Beastie Boys-Body Movin’

Beyonce-Me, Myself, and I

Blake Shelton-Boys ‘Round Here


Creedence Clearwater Revival-Born on the Bayou

Dave Matthews Band- Tripping Billies

Flock of Seagulls-I Ran

Jefferson Starship-We Built This City on Rock & Roll

Kanye West-Stronger

Lady Gaga-You and I

Lauryn Hill- DooWop (That Thing)

Lynard Skynard-Sweet Home Alabama

Michael Jackson-Thriller

Muse – Uprising

Paul Simon- You Can Call Me Al

U2-Walk On

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